Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Four – Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more.  Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
One – Leftover Turkey Soup and/or Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
Two – Turkey Hash
Three – Potato Cakes, Potato Bread, Potato Leek Soup

Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal.  Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash.  Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.  If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet.  Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate.  Add a cup or so of stock and stir.  Add more if the mixture is too thick.  Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.

 

 

Spring Tartlet

Galettes have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s easier than a pie and more elegant in some ways because it’s different, portable for taking to another’s for dinner without keeping track of your pie plate, and, well, fun! Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of savory combinations for a quick dinner, as these days we are all working at a vigorous clip to get the Riggin ready for the season.

A galette is essentially a rustic, loosely formed pie. They are beautiful and can be made large for 10 to 12 people, small for 4 to 6, or even individual. This crust has some cornmeal in it, which gives a nice texture, compliments the rustic style, and gives the crust a bit more form. For transporting, simply loosely surround them with parchment paper for a rustic wrapping.

While recipes have specific amounts, what I’ve found most useful about galettes, similar to pizza, is the ability to use up little bits of cheese and/or leftover grilled meat and vegetables. It therefore goes without saying that no galette in my house will every be the same, as we will never have the exact same combinations of leftovers. The recipe below is meant as a starting point to give you an idea of how much to use and in what combinations, but experiment away!

While these are savory, you can always use berries, a little flour, and some sugar for a dessert galette like the Raspberry Cinnamon Galette in my cookbook, Sugar and Salt: The Blue Book.

Galette Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look like something between breadcrumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender; the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into 2 equal rounds, cover well, and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out each disc into an 11-inch circle. Place the ingredients in the center in the order listed, leaving a 2-inch perimeter without filling. Neatly fold over the 2-inch edge toward the center, pinching where needed. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large serving 4 to 6 people

Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Galette
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese; about 4 cups lightly packed
20 cherry and orange tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill sprigs
zest from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Annie
Spring is a happy time

 

 

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Entertaining equals stress in many home kitchens, but fear not. It needn’t be this way! The trick is to choose wisely and plan ahead. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and let the choices reveal themselves to you. Even if you aren’t a planner. Now is the time to step out of your usual pattern and be kind to yourself by spending a little time thinking and organizing. Then let the rest go.

Clean ahead, set the table ahead, shop ahead, bake ahead. Choose simple but elegant menus. And then enjoy your guests, your clean house and your delicious food.

The appetizers offered here are ones in just this category. Because you’ll be adding lots of flavor to the brie, choose brands that are on the lower end of the price spectrum – ones that you might not choose for a cheese platter, but that will be perfect for the addition of a funky or traditional topping.

Wishing you calm, serene moments with your family and friends.

Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

1 8-ounce wheel of brie
1/2 cup crushed pretzels; about 3 pretzel rods
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup lightly packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 clove garlic
Several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the wheel of brie on an oven proof serving platter or a pie tin. To crush the pretzel rods, place them on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. The pieces want to be the size of peas, not pulverized into crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the pretzels, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well and mound the mixture on top of the brie wheel. Some will fall off; this is fine. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is beginning to brown and get crispy and the brie has softened and is pliable but the surface is still unbroken.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS on the above recipe:

Almond, Cranberry, and Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Walnuts and Lemon Marmalade
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon marmalade
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Top brie as in above recipe and bake.

Black Olive Tapenade
You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance, as it gets better with time. This spread is great as an appetizer with goat cheese as well.

1 cup dried Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Because the capers are so salty, soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt. Drain them after soaking. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to serve if making ahead or top brie as in above recipe.

Makes 1 cup

Portland Press Herald Article

In case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the link to our most recent press about the Sugar & Salt books.  Peggy Grodinsky is the acclaimed food editor of the Portland Press Herald and was actually my editor for a couple of years until I stopped doing the food column for that paper.  It was interesting to talk with her in this interview, as while we worked together for several years, we inherited each other and never actually met face to face.  Most of our conversations were via email based exclusively on the text and content of my columns.  To have our awareness of each other expand into our larger life realms was fun.

The piece is in the Chop Chop segment and features my recipes for Blizzard Carbonara and Beet, Pear, and Cranberry Salad with Shaved Asiago.

Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale

Carrots from the garden Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do. Both are delicious.

1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped; about 4 cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions. Use your hands to coat evenly. Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown. Add the kale and drizzle with more oil, salt, and pepper. Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Clean eating – I’m into it.

New Cookbook!

Announcing Sugar and Salt: Book Two -The Orange Book!  This collection of recipes from my galley and home kitchen will arrive at our door step (or barn step) soon!  Here’s a look at the process….

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Over the past several months we’ve been getting serious about producing a cookbook, so we made a lot of food.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was chocolate! And delicious.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was healthy. And delicious!
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
When we couldn’t hold all of the pieces in our head any longer, we posted it all over the office walls.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
We got to knit. And made a Ball jar cozy (several actually) using Mim Bird‘s pattern.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Occasionally, we made cocktails. They were well timed.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then we drank them.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of us had lemonade instead. And also, one of us got confused.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Then we made Brussels sprouts that were so good we almost didn’t get the photo (because we ate them all while standing at the stove).
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
A lot of words got written and someone had to take a doggie break.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then there was more food.

Annie
Now that was fun!

Click Sugar and Salt to order.

Spring-Dug Leeks

There’s nothing like going out to the garden after a serious winter when the only thing to harvest from the garden is dreams of vegetables yet-to-be-grown and pulling leeks long buried in a mountain of straw.  Satisfaction supreme.SpringDugLeeks3

These sweet babies just had to become soup.  Adding the last of the sweet potatoes from the root cellar, a few white beans leftover from another meal and dinner was born.SpringDugLeeks2Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups leeks, diced and washed; about 2 leeks
4 cups sweet potatoes, diced; about 2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons garlic, minced; about 3 cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2, 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 pork hock
1/2 cup sherry (or more to taste at the end)
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces and washed
2 tablespoons tamari (or more)

Heat a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and leeks and sauté until the leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Make a small space for the garlic and add it to the pan, sauteing for only 30 seconds to one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the escarole, tamari and extra sherry. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the white beans are soft. Add escarole and tamari and sherry to taste and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Garden satisfied

Pan-seared Cauliflower with Kale Pesto

While initially I created this dish as a side to some sort of healthy protein, the more I snacked on it (while plating it up), the more I decided that this could be the highlight of a meal.  Served over polenta or quinoa and with a salad, I’d be a happy camper.  Only those major meat-lovers would be sad to not have their mainstay.  The rest of us, though?  Yum.

RoastedCauliflowerKalePesto2

RoastedCauliflowerKalePesto1

Pan-seared Cauliflower with Kale Pesto
Did you know that the green leaves on the bottom of the cauliflower heads are edible? Use them for kimchi, a small slaw, garnish or in a stir-fry. Think about them as you would cabbage.

1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 anchovies, minced
1/2 cup kale pesto
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower. Make slices 3/4-inch thick beginning at one end as you would bread. When you reach the core, turn the flat side down and repeat until you have cut all four sides. Discard the harder and more fibrous core.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the cauliflower, salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Check often to stir and reduce heat to medium if the pieces begin to darken too much. Break any large pieces with a wooden spoon. When the cauliflower begins to soften, about 10 minutes, add the anchovies and mix in well. Add the kale pesto, mix well and transfer to a bowl or platter. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

BabyKalePesto

Kale Pesto
This pesto is slightly milder than the perfumy basil variety, with a minor bitter note. It’s a star in our house and is used in soups, pastas, sandwiches and pizzas – all the ways you would consider for a traditional pesto. Also, if you have someone with a pinenut allergy, sunflower seeds are an excellent substitute.

8 ounces kale leaves, stems removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 teaspoons minced garlic; about 3 cloves

Combine all ingredients in a food processer. Freeze what you won’t use within a few days.

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Lovin’ my veggies

Red Potatoes, Baby Kale, and Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are still a favorite of mine and especially this time of year when fragrant, floral Meyer lemons are available.  I preserve a bunch over the winter and then use them as little bursts of flavor in salads and sauces all summer long on the Riggin.  Not wanting to wait until the summer to have these beauties, this recipe with red potatoes and baby kale was born.

Preserved Meyer Lemons
The remaining oil is also be lovely in salads or for dipping bread.

5 to 6 Meyer lemons
1/2 cup coarse sea salt
4 sticks of cinnamon
8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 quart-sized Ball jar with lid
extra virgin olive oil

Make sure the jar you are using are very clean and sterile – as you would for jams and jellies. The salt is a preservative as well, but it’s better to be safe. Cut all of the lemons into 8 wedges each or slice them cross‐wise. Toss the lemons with the salt and place them in the jar.  Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves and cover with the lid. Shake once daily for 10 days to coat the lemons with the salt. You don’t need to refrigerate them at this point. After 10 days, cover the lemons with extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate for up to one year.

RedPotatoesBabyKalePreservedLemons

Red Potatoes, Baby Kale, and Preserved Lemons
If you don’t have preserved lemons in your pantry, salty, umami-rich black olives are a good substitute.

2 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced onions; about 1 large onion
8 ounces baby kale
1/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup preserved lemons

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes with 1-inch of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and return the empty stock pot to the stove over medium-high heat while the potatoes remain in the strainer. Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 12 minutes or so or until the onions begin to brown. Add the potatoes back to the pot and combine gently with a wooden spoon the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Have a bright, sunny day